Redbird Mountain - 11273' and Shelly Mountain - 11278'
Location: 43.82652°N, 113.72656°W
Distance: 9 miles
Elevation gain: 4200' (net)
Class (difficulty): 2
Time: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Range: White Knob
Prominence: 673' for Redbird and 2338' for Shelly
After several days of debate, Zach and I settled on a trip to the White Knobs to climb Shelly Mountain. Shelly Mountain is the range highpoint of the White Knob Mountains and Idaho's 63rd most prominent peaks, with 2338' of prominence. We knew that some had also climbed neighboring Redbird, Lime, and Cabin Mountain along with Shelly. We figured we would let the weather and our ambition determine how many peaks we climbed.
The day was sunny as we neared the Big Lost Valley. To our shock, a rare, 3-day August storm had actually put snow on the peaks. This shocked me, as late July and early August are the hottest few weeks in the year in Idaho.
We approached the area via Alder Creek Road out of Darlington. Alder Creek Road is in fine shape until you reach the National Forest boundary. Beyond the boundary it becomes a bit rougher. The last mile or so are rough, but not as bad as reported in other trip reports. We parked at the 4-way intersection at the head of Stewart Canyon.
We arrived fairly late, not starting hiking until 10am. We followed the 4WD road west up Stewart Canyon. This was a nice start to the day, with great footing and a gentle grade. Follow this road for about 1.7 miles until it forks, take the left fork, up an incredibly steep section that leads to Redbird Mountain's east ridge.
Once we reached the ridge at 9600', we could see doable ridges up to the summit of Redbird. With the late start, we decided right then that we would just tag Shelly and Redbird. We could also see Shelly Mountain from this spot, but could not see if we could cut across Redbird’s south shoulder below the top and save having to climb Redbird twice.
As we headed up Redbird, we decided just to climb to the summit and find a way across on the way back from Shelly. The rock on the east ridge of Redbird was nearly perfect. The views from Redbird were outstanding. However, some clouds were forming and it was quite chilly, so we decided to book it for Shelly Mountain.
Descending off Redbird to the saddle with Shelly was on more good rock. We headed up Shelly on a slope that turned a bit rockier, but usually had solid footing. Soon we summited Shelly Mountain.
Shelly provided great views, with the Pioneer Range and Copper Basin on one side and the Lost River Mountains and Big Lost Valley on the other. With better weather, we hung out on Shelly for quite a while.
From Shelly we had spotted a game trail about 100 feet below Redbird’s summit. This was our goal as we climbed the ridge. When we reached the location of the alleged trail, I couldn’t find much. After some insane side-hilling, we bit the bullet and pretty much re-climbed Redbird and got on the good rock again. We cruised down the slopes and soon were drinking beers at the trailhead and preparing for the ride back home. Another great day in the mountains!
There are several ways to get to Alder Creek Road. We came in from Darlington, followed the road around Leslie Butte, then into Alder Canyon. You can also come in from Leslie and from the north.
We followed Alder Creek Road all the way until the head of Stewart Canyon Road. This road requires high clearance and probably 4WD.